Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 9/2015

2 09 2015

In an attempt to avoid the correct but lengthy word jumble this is, I’m just going to refer to this as the Vet School Expansion. Even then, in terms of physical square footage, expansion is something of a misnomer. The plan calls for the demolition of 68,000 SF of space, the addition of 65,000 SF of space, and the renovation of 33,000 SF. In sum, 3,000 SF less space than which the vet school started with.

However, it’s less about space and more about efficiency. The plans include renovation and expansion of classrooms, teaching laboratories, cafeteria, locker rooms and shower facilities, and a combined Tower Road entrance. In the photos below, the entry plaza and the James Law Auditorium have been torn down. In its place will rise a new three-story addition that will house the vet school’s Flower-Sprecher Library. Parts of Schurman Hall will also be demolished and replaced with a new 2.5 story gallery/courtyard space. Extensive interior renovation will cluster classrooms, labs and service space, improving circulation through the numerous interconnected buildings that comprise the Vet School. The Vet Research Tower will be reclad in lighter, more transparent glass to match the new additions. The design of the expansion is a product of NYC firm Weiss/Manfredi, a Cornell favorite.

Renovations will increase the class size from 102 DVM students to 120 DVM students. Since a DVM degree takes four years, that means an additional 72 students.

Phase one for the vet school expansion is well underway, having a roughly January 2015- January 2016 time frame. The second phase will pick up immediately after the first and run from January 2016 to June 2017.

The budget for both phases is $74.1 million, with funds coming from the SUNY Construction Fund and private sources.

On a humorous note, while going through the project page on the architect’s website, I found an image of a lecture hall with some token presentation slides (last image). The placeholder image is a screenshot I had taken of the Cornell Master Plan back in 2008. Surprise surprise. For the record, I’m totally okay with it (even though I hate the screenshot, dating from the days before I thought to crop images).

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Klarman Hall Construction Update, 9/2015

1 09 2015

Klarman Hall is entering the home stretch now, just a few months from its anticipated January 2016 completion (and a few weeks behind the December 2015 date initially planned). Montour Falls-based Construction firm Welliver is busy sealing up the building’s exterior, while putting up drywall, painting and finishing-out the interior lower floors, and wrapping up services rough-in in the upper level offices.

From the looks of it, most if not all of the sandstone exterior wall panels have been installed. The vestibule has been framed out but has yet to be glazed (window installation), and while the atrium has been glazed, the glass-paneled roof above the atrium has not. Concrete stairs have been poured on the slope, and the rest of the landscaping will follow after the building has been completed and the warm, snowless weather of spring comes around. Construction progress of the project can be followed through aerial photos shared by Landmark Images here.

The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates, and is named for billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman ’79. The building will be the first new humanities building on Cornell’s campus since Goldwin Smith Hall was built onto the old dairy science building in 1906. Just like Cornell did with Goldwin Smith over a century ago, the new building will be combined with the old building through hallways and commons areas. Klarman Hall will contain classrooms, faculty and graduate student offices, and in its the north section, a 350-seat auditorium. The large interior atrium makes use of the rotunda of Goldwin-Smith Hall for open-layout seating, a food/cafe area, and ingress/egress. Cornell is aiming to have the building achieve LEED Platinum certification.

The cost of the new building, which began construction in May 2013, is estimated at $61 million.


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Klarman Hall Construction Update, 5/2015

19 05 2015

Since the last update on Klarman Hall in February, the snow has melted and East Avenue has been reopened to all vehicular traffic. Construction firm Welliver has been pouring concrete on the upper floors and the structural steel has been erected. Concrete pre-cast has been installed on the atrium-facing portions of the top floor, with bright green glass-mat sheathing visible on some of the panels. Within these panels, the window cutouts are visible, and as seen in the last photo, windows have already been installed on the south block facing into what will be the atrium. Windows will be installed in the north block shortly. To hoist these panels into place, a telescopic crane is used.

Less visible to the outside observer, interior wall framing is underway on the upper levels, with utilities rough-in continuing, and some drywall installation underway in the more complete areas. Openings have been created in Goldwin Smith’s rotunda (where people will flow in and out of Klarman’s atrium), and the sub-slab (the concrete below the new floor) is being poured.

The long-term construction schedule calls for window glazing (exterior glass wall installation) and drywall to be complete by the end of June. The atrium skylight glazing will take place during the summer, the elevator will be installed by August, and the green roof will be prepared just as the fall semester kicks in. Klarman Hall will open its doors to the public in December if all goes to schedule.

The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates, and is named for billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman ’79. The cost of the new building, which began construction in May 2013, is estimated at $61 million.

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The Cornell Fine Arts Library

6 05 2015


Here we go, renders of the Cornell Fine Arts Library, courtesy of the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council (ILPC) Agenda. Additional renders here, project narrative here. Apparently, the ILPC does get to review the addition, although looking at the agenda for the 14th, it doesn’t look like they’re making any decisions (and being just outside the Arts Quad Historic District, they may not be able to).


Quoting the front page of the narrative, “rather than acting as a physical symbol, it radiates activity and occupation”. The university wanted the new superstructure, which they’re calling a “lantern”, to be as visible as possible from campus entry points, and it is claimed that the addition will bring “distinction and excellence to the campus”.


The building will have two entrances, one public and one for AAP only. The interior will consist of four levels of mezzanine shelving for the Fine Arts Library’s collection, as well as interspersed work/study spaces. Floor-to-ceiling space will range from 48 feet on the north side of the reading room to 7.5 feet in some sections of the library stacks. Long, unobstructed hallways will run the length of Rand Hall. The large variation is meant to convey both grand spaces and “private engagement” with the books. The lantern will have a catwalk as well as working spaces.


The design replaces Rand’s multi-pane daylight-factory windows with single panes, removes the east stairwell, and is purposely designed to overhang above Rand, acting as a sort of canopy for rain and sunlight protection.


As previously covered, the architect is a Cornell alum, Vienna-based Wolfgang Tschapeller M.A. ’87. More of Tschapeller’s very avant-garde designs can be found at his website here. The project is being funded in part by a multi-million dollar donation from Cornell alumna, architect and UC-Berkeley professor Mui Ho ’62 B. Arch ’66. No construction time frame or total cost have been given at this time.

I’ll call a spade a spade. Rand Hall is getting an ugly hat. One that the rest of campus will be subjected to looking at for years to come.



Klarman Hall Construction Update, 2/2015

17 02 2015

Time to take another look at Cornell’s Klarman Hall for a progress report. It was low 50s F when I stopped by in late December and I thought that was pretty awesome. I completely and totally regret saying anything and will next time reserve to complaining about how cold it is, in an effort to spite Mother Nature.

Anyway, construction firm Welliver has been busy craning the new steel atrium trusses into place, with at least four installed when these photos were taken the weekend before last. My laymen’s mind would call the shape almond-like or a pinched oval, but wikipedia tells me the proper terms are “vesica piscis” or “mandorla”, both of which sound like alien species doing battle with Captain Kirk. One of the site cranes has completed its work and has been removed, while the other will stay in place until all the structural steel has been erected. On the lower floors, fireproofing, mechanical and electrical rough-in (plumbing and wiring) is underway, while concrete pouring is taking place in parts of the upper levels. Some of this work would be visible from the fences, were it not for the plastic sheeting put up to keep the frigid winds at bay.

Over the month of February, construction schedules indicate that fireproofing will wrap up on the south side of the ground level, leading the way for sheetrock installation and exterior and interior wall framing. At the same time, fireproofing will begin on the north side of the ground level, and concrete will continue to be poured for the auditorium space and upper levels.

The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates, and is due to open in December 2015. Construction cost is estimated at $61 million.

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A New Home For Cornell’s Fine Arts Library

27 01 2015


News of this project comes from the city Planning Department’s annual report, rather than Cornell. There was a time when Cornell used to do a reasonably good job sharing brief summary PDFs of its capital projects, but that ended a couple of years ago.

The project is just a single line, line item B. 17 on the 2015 Work Plan: “Rand Hall Reconstruction”. Those words themselves didn’t pull up anything in google, but a couple related searches pulled up this archived July 2014 email from a Cornell employee announcing the announcement article the chosen architect for Cornell’s new Fine Arts library.

From the AAP website, the Fine Arts Library seems to be more of a renovation than a new construction, moving the FAL from neighboring Sibley Hall and into the top two floors of Rand Hall. The new library is planned for a Fall 2016 opening. The architect is a Cornell alum, Vienna-based Wolfgang Tschapeller M.A. ’87, and the press release credits a $6 million dollar gift from architect and UC-Berkeley professor Mui Ho ’62 B. Arch ’66. From the July 2013 gift annoucement, it sounds like the exterior of Rand will be preserved while the interior is substantially revamped for the new library. There was a great pushback from alumni the first time Cornell tried to demolish Rand Hall, when early versions of Milstein called for the ca. 1911 building’s demolition. Rand Hall sits just outside the Arts Quad Historic District, so any exterior changes would not be subject to review by the very stringent Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council (ILPC).

If I’m to end this the news article-friendly way, I’d just say “we’ll see what happens with this project moving forward”. But I’m going to do this the blog way, so strictly subjective editorial here on – I can only hope the exterior is preserved. I’m too much of a philistine to appreciate architecture like this:



Apart from some close calls with lighthouses and fire towers I’ve visited, I’ve never experienced nausea-inducing staircases before, but there’s a first time for everything.

There’s plenty more on the architect’s website for those who are interested. But they all follow the same, very abstract architectural theme. A fine Arts Library tends to be more avant-garde than most buildings, but this is really pushing the envelope. Cornell, I don’t care if the inside looks like a goddamned funhouse, do the rest of campus a huge favor and leave the exterior alone. Students already deal with Bradfield and Uris Halls, please do not make things worse.


Cornell Construction Updates, 12/2014

6 01 2015

Funny How the November photos are snow-covered, and the December photos were taken when the temperature was in the low 50s F. Work continues on the future Klarman Hall, pushing onward to its intended opening in December 2015. Construction firm Welliver is plodding making slow if steady progress, with steel work and metal decking underway above ground, and utility installation and door framing in the basement. Some interior and exterior wall framing has begun on the basement, ground and first floors. The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates.

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On the other side of campus, renovation work continues on Stocking Hall, the home of the food science department. The porous concrete in front of the new wing didn’t fare as well as hoped, and is being replaced. In the old building, installation of new, energy-efficient windows is underway, and should be completed in the near-term. Interior work continues as labs and academic spaces are fitted out, and the old building and new building connectors have been sealed from the element, making them water-tight. The work will wrap up this summer, weather and schedule permitting; the two-phase renovation was launched in September 2010, and the new wing (phase one) opened in July 2013. The 136,000 sq ft rebuild and renovation is nearly a year behind schedule. Contracting is being taken care of by the Syracuse office of The Pike Company, and the design of the new building is a product of a SUNY Construction Fund favorite, Mitchell Giurgola Architects of New York City.

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